Tuesday, December 9, 2008

"Abraham Lincoln once said, 'If you are a racist, I will attack you with the North'" ~Michael Scott

One thing that has continually bothered me since we brought it up in class is the dilemma of the white supervisor versus the dilemma of the black supervisor. I don't remember how exactly it came up in class, but the example itself goes something like this:

Is it racist for a black supervisor to reject a white applicant for a job in an otherwise all-black office on the basis of possible interruption in office efficency?
Is it also racist for a white supervisor to reject a black applicant for a job in an otherwise all-white office on that same basis?

The argument presented in class was one of historical background. It was racist for the white supervisor, but not for the black supervisor.

My argument goes a step further to say that they are both racist. They are so simply because they are dealing with issues that are not directly concerned with the applicant's qualifications. This has some interesting ramifications for affirmative action, but I think that can be argued away as a necessary plan in order to facilitate change. As it stands now, I think the affirmative action does more harm than good (perhaps a bit of bias here as asians are discriminated against by affirmative action even more than white people) Yes, I understand that we cannot erase history. Yes, I understand that the white man is historically an oppressor. As cliche as this phrase is, you're "preaching to the choir." But I've been reviewing MLK Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech, and this stood out:

"I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.


I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

My point is, as MLK Jr more eloquently stated, is that history is history. What we have the potential to change is the future. A heavy-handed end to my post, perhaps, but in light of recent events (Obama's election), perhaps heavy-handedness is the key.


smiga said...

I think the counter arguement for the supervisor example was that historical background cannot be ignored. It cant be ignored because it is built into the way we think.

Dev Varma said...

I think the last statement made "(Obama's Election)" only proves the point that Professor Johnson was trying to make. If we, as a nation, were true believers in the idea that "history is history", then would the election of a half-black president really have that much pull over us? I don't think so. I feel that it is exactly because of the history of oppression in this grandest country on earth that we celebrate "(Obama's Election)" on the basis of his color. To me, denying a black man a job because of the history of oppression in the United States is equally as "racist" as a ticker-tape parade for the country's first (kinda) black president. Both reactions concede the history they are reacting to.

MVP said...

The guy's black, just saying. :p Just my thought on that, though. If a man identifies himself as x, I'll respect him enough to identify him x, regardless of how much or how little blood he has.

And nah Dev, I think it is another step towards that fateful day when race won't matter. I mean, after this, say another black president gets elected, and the effect is less and less drastic until it becomes the norm, and then a minority (go Vietnamese president go), etc etc.

I think it fits into MLK's dream perfectly, in which we can ignore race as a basis for qualification. And rightly so, because to acknowledge race with such capacity as history could allow us would further Hegel's master/slave dialectic that has plagued both the white man and the ethnic man for centuries. The key is to see my white brother as my equal, is it not?

Joy Henary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Justin Stradley said...

I agree with what Dev said about it being rascist to celebrate a black man winning the presidency. We should just celebrate the fact that we have once again had the privilege of electing a new president.

Omair Khattak said...

MIchael i think you're missing the forrest for the trees (woohoo cliche's) just because one minority was elected doesn't mean that the dream is slowly being realized. be mindful of the fact that Obama's presidency will be one of the most scrutinized, if not the most scrutinized, presidencies this nation has ever seen. Should Obama fail to perform effectively, his election could very well impede minority gains in the majorities conscience of superiority. Obama's vote wasn't a wholly a vote of confidence in a minority candidate, either. I think that it's facetious and irrational to believe that just because a minority has been elected into office that racial relations are strengthening amongst the American masses. Obama's election didn't even open the door to interracial solidarity. I wouldn't even go so far as to say that it knocked. I think Obama's election showed that some of us don't see color as a function of capability, while some of us have enough integrity to look past it.